[VP Rewind is a quick look back at the important events of the past week or two that should have been on Venus Patrol had it actually been alive.]
Publicly revealed for the first time ever at New York’s recent Babycastles Summit, this pitch video for what could have been Guitar Hero III, had legal-entanglements not stripped the franchise from Harmonix before landing it at Activision.
Created by Joe ‘@codeloss‘ Kowalski and Steven Kimura over the course of a weekend in the summer of 2006, Rockapocalypse was going to take all of the awkwardness of Guitar Hero‘s narrative (aka “why is a what essentially amounts to a half-decent cover band rising from nothing to go platinum?”) and give it amazing form.
In its post-apocalyptic future, where rock has been banned, a literal band-of-outsiders emerges to take the mostly-forgotten anthems-of-yore, passed down through generations like folktales, and give them back to the population at large.
So, in essence, kind of the coolest game ever, and — if you’re paying close attention — probably not the biggest leap to learn that Kowalski’s next post-Harmonix job was at Double Fine, where he spearheaded the fantastic “gatefold album” user interface for Brutal Legend, viewable for your remembering below the fold.
Sporting a heroin-chic-weathered ‘body’ decal that likely won’t be working its way backward into the company’s toy line, French game news site JeuxVideo gets the first look at Iggy Pop’s appearance in TT/Harmonix’s upcoming Lego Rock Band — click through for the full plastic performance of The Passenger. [via mbf]
Microsoft sets up a charity auction for this Beatles: Rock Band painted Xbox 360, to benefit Doctors Without Borders, the same charity receiving a cut of your “All You Need Is Love” Rock Band download, which doing so — completing the loop — will also enter you into a contest to win one of these Beatles: Rock Band painted Xbox 360s.
Limited edition consoles might not be my usual beat, but I’m mentioning this here because I still contend Passion Picture’s cinematic — from which the design is lifted — is one of the most fantastically surreal game intros of all time.
Harmonix — and, by extension, developers Backbone — had a difficult balancing act to achieve in creating Unplugged, their downsized PlayStation Portable exclusive version of Rock Band.
For the newcomers that have only found the studio’s output only via its most recent games, they had to carefully re-dress the experience of their foundational Amplitude and Frequency games in Rock Band‘s rock/gothic/punk clothes, and had to ensure that that re-dress didn’t also alienate the long-time supporters — the ones, you could say, who were there for the early dive-bar gigs and bought the hand-screened, car-trunk T-shirts.
As a card carrying member of the latter category, then, I can say with some happy surprise that they’ve succeeded with at least that much: though its four-lane compression (corresponding to Rock Band‘s traditional bass/drums/vox/guitar breakdown) might be the next step down from Freq‘s eight to Amp‘s six, returning to that twitchy lane-switching familiarity was entirely welcome after the nearly six year interim since Amp first hit the shelves. (more…)
And the second in what will be a very trailer-heavy morning (with Europe’s GamesCom conference in full swing) is another from Harmonix, this time the first gameplay of their TT Games partnered Lego Rock Band, showing just what it means to devastate with the power of its plastic-rock, and I’ll be damned if turning the music chart gems into Lego bricks isn’t the cutest extra touch.
Alongside the third trailer above — about which I’ll say stick through it specifically for the last five familiar seconds — Harmonix has revealed the last 19 tracks of the 45 included on disc minus, apparently, a secret final track.
I’m only weeping because the one track I’ve been holding out basically desperate hope for is nowhere to be found, meaning my last recourse is to cross my fingers for the rest of Revolver to come as DLC. Either way, the final tracks included are below:
• “Boys” / Cavern Club
• “A Hard Day’s Night” / Ed Sullivan Theater
• “I’m Looking Through You” / Shea Stadium
• “If I Needed Someone” / Shea Stadium
• “Ticket to Ride” / Shea Stadium
• “Drive My Car” / Budokan
• “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
• “Getting Better” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
• “Good Morning” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
• “Hello, Goodbye” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
• “Hey Bulldog” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
• “Dear Prudence” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
• “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
• “Helter Skelter” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
• “Something” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
• “Come Together” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
• “Don’t Let Me Down” / Rooftop Concert
• “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” / Rooftop Concert
• “I Me Mine” / Rooftop Concert
Somebody had to do it, I guess it may as well have been Harmonix themselves: the official Rock Band site has just updated with this new pan-console compatibility list that lets you know which of the gajillion technicolor instruments piling up maddeningly in your bed/living-room over the past five years will work with which games. Mentioned here mostly because it’s really, really time for me to cull the lot.
Harmonix updates with the latest look at the songs and symbolic eras coming to Beatles: Rock Band, and sends on the latest names and locations of newly unveiled featured tracks:
Twist And Shout / Cavern Club
Do You Want To Know A Secret / Cavern Club
Can’t Buy Me Love / Ed Sullivan Theater
I Wanna Be Your Man / Ed Sullivan Theater
Eight Days A Week / Shea Stadium
Paperback Writer / Budokan
And Your Bird Can Sing / Budokan
Yellow Submarine / Abbey Road Dreamscape
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band* / Abbey Road Dreamscape
With a Little Help from My Friends* / Abbey Road Dreamscape
Within You Without You / Tomorrow Never Knows / Abbey Road Dreamscape
Revolution / Abbey Road Dreamscape
Birthday / Abbey Road Dreamscape
Dig A Pony / Rooftop Concert
I’ve Got A Feeling / Rooftop Concert
The only problem: my chest is getting even tighter with nervous anticipation as the release date approaches and She Said She Said still hasn’t reared its sad/dead-knowing head, and I’ve already got that tremendously jarring opening riff’s fret-button-pattern memorized in my head, and if I don’t get the chance to act it out for points I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.
Minorly earth-shattering music/game news this morning from the Rock Band camp as they officially unveil The Rock Band Network, a new program for any musician or band to create their own Rock Band tracks and sell them through
the game’s online store a new Rock Band Network store.
The Network will work alongside the Xbox 360′s XNA Creators Club, and will let home-users output MIDI song information to accompany their master mix with plugins created especially for digital workstation Reaper, package them together as a Rock Band-compatible track with Harmonix’s own Magma tool, and preview your track in-game with a new ‘Audition mode’ being added in an upcoming patch.
From there you can publish your song to the Creators site (essentially, to the Creators Club community), where it will be peer-reviewed — as XNA games themselves are before they’re released to the Xbox 360′s Community Games section. If the track is approved, it will appear in the Rock Band store at a price point selected by you (between 50 cents to $3), with a 30/70% revenue split
(at a to-be-determined percentage) between you and Harmonix/MTV.
For now, the initiative remains exclusive to the Xbox 360, though a caveat says “select songs” may appear on PS3 — presumably, those popular enough with the community to get an officially-pushed release from Harmonix.
See Harmonix’s newly opened site for more information, and to sign up for the early closed-beta trial, which is expected to launch by the end of the month, with an open beta “after August”, and an official launch by the end of the year.
[UPDATE: More information is available in this Billboard writeup, which adds a number of interesting details (corrected above), including the ability for "developers to customize the avatars, camera angles and lighting for the background video rather than using the automatically generated default setting" in Reaper, and HMX training sessions to certify track-makers, which will be officially listed for interested artists and labels.]
There’s something in the water over there at Harmonix that’s causing widespread wicked home-stitch/crochet madness: first it was Milo Martinez’s Left 4 Dead Sackboys (more on those in a second), and now creative director Josh Randall drops a note that playtest coordinator Jyllian Thibodeau has been quietly at work on her own plush tribute: the first third of Rhythm Heaven‘s Glee Club.
My only hope is that the other two, when completed, will be looking on this one with that signature “you’re screwing the whole thing up” scorn. And, unsurprising side note, Thibodeau also has a wicked desk, where I spy not only a pair of Daniel Danger BUDs but at least one member of Peskimo’s Bamboozoo.